Aalto students help develop digital services for women’s charities and family support groups

Student projects included a website for advice on long-distance relationships for Väestöliitto and an Instagram campaign aimed at recruiting members for the Women's Line.

Students from two Aalto University courses have collaborated with a group of organisations to help develop their digital services. The students came from the Digital Service Design course and the Growth Hacking course, both part of the Information Networks programme, which is led by Professor Risto Sarvas.

‘The courses bring together students, companies, alumni and third sector organisations, resulting in meaningful and socially important collaboration. Many students and graduates reflect on the importance and contribution of their own work to society. It is therefore important that the students have an opportunity to cooperate with the third sector as well as companies. This way they get to experience how their own skills and expertise can improve the world,’ Professor Sarvas said.

The organisations participating in the courses were Väestöliitto, the Women's Line and the Association of Domestic Science Teachers. In the service design course, students designed a website about long-distance relationships. The website combines strategy, services and marketing.

‘Some of the relationship services already existed, but after the cooperation with Aalto a remote relationship component was added. A large number of young adults living in a long-distance relationship need information, support and peer support, as well as services to strengthen their relationship. The course cooperation was a great success,’ said Heli Vaaranen, Psychotherapist from Väestöliitto.

The collaboration with Väestöliitto began with students planning and implementing a nationwide online survey and interviews, which provided a lot of additional information about long-distance relationships.

‘Long-distance relationships have pitfalls and that is why couples can benefit from additional services. For example, moving together as a couple after a long-distance relationship can bring about a crisis. After all, this is where two people who have lived independently and in two different worlds come together. Based on the survey, couples would particularly like peer support and information about the successes and failures of other couples in long-distance relationships,’ Heli Vaaranen added.

The cooperation with the Women's Line was aimed at developing membership acquisitions - increasing the number of both main and support members.

‘Together with the students we conducted three short social media campaign experiments. Instagram stories one and two were implemented in January-March and the third campaign in March used content that worked well on Valentine's Day and on Women's Day,’ said Ada Kairavuori, Communications Coordinator at Women’s Line.

The number of membership applications increased after each experiment, and in addition to these, the Women's Line also received new voluntary applications and dozens of new followers on Instagram.

‘The rapid experiments changed the way we operate and boosted our social media communication. We will continue with these small-budget, quick-response campaigns. Years of pre-planning isn’t always needed,’ Ada Kairavuori said.

All of the campaign content was designed by the Aalto students, in close collaboration with the Women’s Line.

‘The students immediately understood what kind of visual catalogue we wanted to use. We are dealing with difficult issues, but we want to support recovery. The students understood this from the start and thus were given freedom with the campaign implementation,’ Ada Kairavuori added.

During the course, the students visited the organisations’ offices, and representatives from the organisations in turn attended lectures and the final seminar.

‘Services for long-distance relationships and violence against women emerged as important themes during the coronavirus crisis. The work done by the students was even more meaningful and topical than we expected at the beginning of the year,’ Risto Sarvas said.

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